OUT TO LUNCH:
Is My Toaster Sentient?
The Cowboy Astronaut of Mother’s Day
Aliens Took My Stereo
All I Ever Do (is sit in my room)
CAST & CREW
Hosted by Rob Deering and Russell Howard
Regulars: Mark Olver, Colin Hoult, Fergus Craig,
Joanna Neary, Lawry Lewin, Dan Antopolski, Gary Le
Strange, Jason Manford (1-2), Alun Cochrane (3-6),
Josie Long (3-6)
Guests: Justin Edwards (1), Laura Solon (1), Mark
Watson (2), Ben Willbond (3), Howard Read (4),
Spencer Brown (5), Tony Law (6)
Produced by Richard Grocock and Shaun Parry
An Avalon Production for BBC Radio 2
BBC Radio 2 - Saturday lunchtimes (1-2 pm)
Show 1: April 15, 2006
Show 2: April 22, 2006
Show 3: April 29, 2006
Show 4: May 6, 2006
Show 5: May 13, 2006
Show 6: May 20, 2006
The shows were all recorded live in front of an
audience at the Villiers Theatre on Villiers Street,
London (a Victorian-style music hall near Charing
Cross Station, formerly known as Players’ Theatre
and now Charing Cross Theatre). Looking it up now,
it’s hard to find any evidence it was actually ever
called Villiers Theatre, but I swear it was at the time.
It must have been a very short-lived name. All my
songs were sung live over the same backing tracks I
used in my stage act.
This was one of those live variety show type things
that work so well on Radio 2. I remember being very
enthusiastic about it at first - on paper, it had a really
good balance of elements, with a great mix of stand-
up, character, sketch comedy and music, and I was
thrilled to be the main recurring musical act.
Everyone in it was top notch - some having gone on
to be big names since - so it was an absolute
privilege to be asked to do it.
But it came at a bad time for me. By 2006, I’d gone
through the ringer a bit with Gary, what with losing
all the ticket money on my second Edinburgh run
and abandoning my third show halfway through. At
the time, I was deep in the recording process for
Gary’s fourth project, Beef Scarecrow, which was a
complete departure from everything I’d done before.
The things I was writing were much more freeform,
darker and stranger - not necessarily appropriate for
a lunchtime on the BBC - so we agreed I’d
concentrate on my already-established, tried-and-
tested material. Which of course makes absolute
But I was starting to hate all that stuff. For the
previous few years, I’d been continually moving
forward, the act always evolving into something new.
But the new stuff wasn’t always what people wanted
to hear. This seemed like another example of that,
so somewhere underneath, I think I must have
resented it. It felt like being caught in a time warp,
unable to move forward or embrace the things I was
doing with any great enthusiasm. In short, I had a
bad attitude towards my own work, and wasn’t in
the sanest mental health.
Still, I thought, if I could somehow get my head
around it, I could probably make it work, and weave
a new narrative for Gary which managed to bridge
the old and the new. Maybe show some kind of
evolution over the course of the six episodes. Maybe
I could even showcase some of my brand new stuff
towards the end?
But that didn’t happen. As the weeks went on, I
started to lose confidence - not in the show, but in
everything I was doing on it. By halfway through the
run, I felt like a total imposter - a fraud who was just
one meeting away from being sacked. Maybe my
bits weren’t going down very well? Maybe I was just
stressed out. But I didn’t feel like nice, funny Gary Le
Strange any more. Being him was a struggle. By this
point, the bulk of his story was starting to look like a
failure. The writing was on the wall for Gary, and this
show seemed like just another nail in his coffin.
I wasn’t asked back for Series 2.
THOUGHTS & FEELINGS
I haven’t listened to the show since it aired - not sure
I even listened to it at the time, to be honest - and
haven’t thought about it much since then either. So
engaging with it now feels like having to lift up a
loose paving stone when you know for certain
there’s a writhing nest of maggots underneath.
Sounds awful, doesn’t it? Well, yes - it was a pretty
awful time. But that was nearly 17 years ago. And I
have to do it some time or I’ll never fix the patio. And
that’s where this precarious paving stone metaphor
No idea. My memories of this show are still pretty
raw, so I can barely bring myself to listen to any of it.
If this website is therapy - which I strongly suspect it
might be - I’ll have to listen to them all sooner or
later. But I can only do it one step at a time. I’ll
update this bit when I start trying.
The production team at Avalon kindly furnished cast
members with CD recordings of the shows they were
in. There were no inlays but thankfully the labels tell
me which one is which: